Memo: Sign Your Union Card for International Student Support!

PGSU sent the following email out to Princeton graduate students on February 21, 2023.

Dear fellow Princeton graduate worker,

Over 1,400 grads at Princeton have united so far to call for a graduate worker union, joining our peers at MIT, UChicago, Northwestern, Harvard, Yale and elsewhere by seeking the power to negotiate over our own wages and working conditions. Sign your card today.

One of the key reasons we are forming a union is more support for international students. International students make up 45% of the Princeton graduate student body. However, international students face additional challenges in graduate school. With a union contract, we can make graduate school more equitable and accessible for everyone. International students have the same right as domestic students to organize and join a union. With a union, we can empower each other to exercise our rights to make our lives better and our work easier.

As Nancy Tang, a grad worker in Politics, explains: “International students perform the same work as our peers but handle so much precarity while doing so. No matter how long I’ve been here and how much work I do, I always have to manage not only the constant fear of uncertainty of my visa status but also the cumbersome bureaucracy of tax filing and other tasks to maintain status.”

“As a Princeton graduate student, I am disadvantaged in pursuing professional development opportunities such as off-campus summer internships,” Tang continues. “At an institution where I obtained a degree previously, the CPT (Curricular Practical Training) process was streamlined and standardized across the university. But at Princeton, it seems almost impossible to apply for summer internships because CPT remains inaccessible to most of us. Collective bargaining gives us a seat at the table to fight and actually be listened to by the administration.”

Graduate unions have a history of making concrete improvements for international students. For instance, the University of Michigan graduate student union negotiated for

  • the university to reimburse Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) fees, as well as cover the cost of the English Language Proficiency workshop, including providing funding assistance for food and other related expenses for the training 
  • overwork protections, so international students don’t violate the terms of their visa 
  • the creation of a legal hotline international students can call if they have problems crossing the border
  • the removal of fees specific to international students

Princeton can afford to give international students more support. We can make progress on these goals with a strong showing of union cards to demonstrate we will hold Princeton to account. By signing union cards, we show we won’t leave anyone behind in our fight for fair working conditions. Join us here!


PGSU-UE Organizing Committee